Founded in 1968, Divers Institute of Technology (DIT) welcomes students from many different parts of the country and occasionally from other parts of the world. Veterans, who make up about half of its students, feel particularly at home there, and for good reason. John Manlove, who co-founded the school along with Leiter Hockett, was a 20-year Navy veteran experienced in training divers for advanced qualifications. Since its opening, Divers Institute of Technology has been owned and operated by Navy vets.
DIT’s location in Seattle, Washington, is ideal for people interested in diving careers, said Jairlyn Volentine, director of admissions. “You get a taste of all the seasons, rather than experiencing just one. That prepares you for whatever you encounter throughout the industry,” she said.
One added bonus of being in the Northwest is the opportunity to work with the University of Washington on some impactful projects. DIT has been involved in other interesting activities as well. It assisted with the production of Men of Honor, a film released in 2000 that was based on the true story of the first African American master diver in the U.S. Navy. Most recently, Divers Institute of Technology was featured in the “In Too Deep” episode of Breaking Bobby Bones on the National Geographic channel.
Preparing for diverse careers
DIT begins a new class of 23-30 students each month, and they complete the 900-hour program in about seven months. Nine of the 28 weeks of training are classroom-based, while the remaining 19 are spent diving and working from the operation barges. By the time they graduate, students will have been on more than 60 dives on various apparatuses and spent well over 3,000 minutes under pressure.
Students attend classes four days a week, leaving Friday, Saturday and Sunday open. “Our program is the best of both worlds! We are a full-time program with almost a part time schedule. About half of our students work while in school. There are employers in Seattle who specifically seek out hiring our students because of their strong work ethic and reputation,” said Volentine.
DIT takes a comprehensive approach to diving instruction. “As opposed to the à la carte option found at many schools, our students get trained in all diving-related areas at one time. The important thing is that instead of picking and choosing, you will graduate being able to handle any underwater task required in the industry. Additionally, you will receive international certification,” said Volentine.
“Whether our students end up using company-supplied hats or they purchase their own, we want them to be comfortable with the safety features and subtle differences that each hat has to offer,” explained Daniel Matthes, Director of Training.
The two main certifications that students earn through the program (ADCI and CSA) enable them to work domestically and globally.
“We understand that the diving industry is always evolving, and we take pride in our connection to some of the largest dive companies and regulatory boards. That allows us to develop a program that prepares our students for success domestically and internationally, in every sector of the industry, for long-term success,” he added.
The program includes seven one-month-long modules: physics and medicine; lightweight and rigging; offshore and hazmat; welding and underwater welding; salvage and hydraulics; scuba and inland; and deep dives.
In-water training takes place in Lake Union (where students deep dive down to 160 feet) and various spots throughout the Puget Sound. The cold and dark waters allow students to become comfortable with the limited visibility conditions commonly encountered in industry. Trainees perform dives ranging from diving in fully integrated contamination suits to feeding wolf eels in the sound.
Courses are taught by 16 instructors who have backgrounds in a range of sectors including deep water oil and gas, nuclear, refining, salvage, tunneling, bridge, shipyard, dock builders, pile drivers, environmental, etc. Many members also have extensive medical backgrounds.
“Combined, the team makes up a great showcase of how diverse and challenging our industry is,” said Matthes.
Separate from its core diving program, DIT offers several specialty courses for graduated and experienced divers who want to continue expanding their commercial diver training. Advanced courses include commercial diver assessments to renew or gain a higher level of international certification, diver medic, hat technician and supervisor training.
Encouraging student success
Divers Institute of Technology offers students a variety of services to enhance their education experience. The instructors and faculty provide as many resources as possible – including free tutoring and special instruction outside of the classroom – to ensure students’ success both as a student and as a diver.
The school provides assistance in locating housing for out-of-town trainees and has a financial aid team to help them find government and private funding to pay for their training. DIT also gives out one $1,000 scholarship each month to the student of each class who has the highest academic grade average after finals. In addition, public and private high school students in Oregon, Washington and Idaho may win one of five $1,000 scholarships from the Northwest Career Colleges Federation. (NWCCF)
Once they graduate, students have access to job placement services. (DIT has an 86% placement rate, verified by a third party.)
Divers who have graduated from DIT are very pleased with their experience. An on-site student survey by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges found that 99% of students felt good about their decision to attend the school and 98% would recommend DIT to a friend.
Divers Institute of Technology Snapshot
Certifications & Certificates:
- ADCI entry level tender/diver International Endorsement
- CSA (Canadian Standards Association) unrestricted surface supplied air diver)
- First aid, CPR, oxygen provider, A.E.D. and blood pathogens
- Hazmat and WAC 80-hour HAZWOPER
- NAUI open water scuba (EANX)
- NAUI Nitrox
- Kirby Morgan hat operator
- Qualified rigger
- Job safety analysis
- Level 1 liquid penetrate testing
- Level II magnetic particle testing